Bashing the military is a favourite past time of the ones who have been enlightened, and rightly so. An increasing number of cool boys now also want to be enlightened, so they have taken to bashing the army too. The tool is a laptop; the location is their cosy house in Defence.
The new army bashers however, in my humble view, need to know a thing or two before launching into a gallant bayonet charge. So I have decided to help them out and will now try to explain how to effectively bash the malicious military, or how to do it ineffectively.
Props to my dear mentor and angry middle aged man, Nadeem F. Paracha; for the master is once again a step ahead of the pupil. He knows the young ones need guidance, so he recently demonstrated how NOT to bash the military.
“We have latest fighter jets for the military, but rickety 27-yr-old passenger planes for the people. Doesn't sound right.”
Let’s put aside the fact that it is terribly distasteful to try and use a tragedy to further your own agenda, and focus on the content.
The rickety 27-year old passenger plane that went down did not belong to the PIA; it belonged to a private airline, so the comparison with military jets does seem ridiculous. They don’t have the same source. The latest military jets also do crash and there have been multiple instances in the current year already.
In any case, Pakistan is doling out billions to the national air carrier so that handpicked Jiyalas in the management can have the prettiest air hostesses to mingle with.
NFP knows all of this, probably better than I do. However when Bhoja crashed a lot of the reactionary anger on social media was directed at the PPP. Naturally, the Jiyala in him had to alter the discourse, so he came up with the above mentioned gem.
We shall get back to this later. Let’s go through other NOT to do bashing routines first.
Another wrong way of doing it is stating incorrect, made-up figures. So vehement had the propaganda been regards the Army’s share of national budget that an army officer’s son once convinced me the military gets 60 percent.
This misrepresentation then allows Ashfaq Pervez Kayani to correct you with a smug look on his face. The share proposed in the next budget is 20 percent, although ET will tell you that coupled with the 2 percent for education, not with the many percents spent on loan repayments to our foreign benefactors. Najam Sethi will add around 5 to 10 percent for allowances and/or pensions.
One more thing I have noticed is the overzealous criticism of the military by some of its main beneficiaries. Yes, I am looking at you; supporters of the Sher who is also Ameer-ul-Momineen. Without any political achievements to boast about, certain people and their supporters have decided to just spout nonsense in this regard; framing it as their biggest draw.
It’s probably because they believe everyone has magically forgotten the identity of Gen Zia-ul-Haq’s Chief Minister in Punjab. Or perhaps they don’t know who Chotay Mian Sahab came to meet in Rawalpindi the night before Long March.
Going back to NFP, the point he was obviously trying to make is that bashing for the sake of it seems stupid. In fact, these are all examples of partisan bashing and people are able to see through them now. Therefore, all they do is harm the good cause. A large section of the population relates patriotism with the military, for good or for bad. With the unwarranted, shallow and often baseless criticism of the institution, enlightened ones continue to alienate those who might otherwise realise that the army has transgressed on many occasions.
There was much momentum gained to this end in the last few years of Musharraf, momentum that could have been harnessed to effectively curb the influence of our establishment. The shenanigans of the political elite however have slowly eroded that momentum. Whose fault is that?
I had grown tired of hearing it and now, thanks to the memo-gate, the excuse that the elite are helpless is no longer a valid argument either. To protect one of their own, they can stare down the combined might of the military and the judiciary, and are helpless only when rights violations are committed against people whose votes don’t matter to them?
In a democratic country, the onus should be on the political class to take the lead in tackling all issues. Questions are to be asked of them, and they have to provide the answers. Try doing that in Pakistan and you will get ridiculed by a certain section of the press who believes the military is responsible for all evil.
Well, even if it is, ask the people you voted for to do something about it. How does the military being wrong make the ruling class saints? It’s the most amazing, awesome logic ever crafted.
The irony is that the politicians they are trying to protect are the same ones who have benefited from the military in the past and continue to do so in the present. The relationship works both ways, appointing the Air Chief Marshal as MD PIA is just another example.
It is also a fact that the Chief of Army Staff is NOT appointed through a general vote, nor is the head of the ISI. Directly, the people cannot hold them accountable. So at the end of the day, you and I can only vote people into parliament and it is up to them to take the military to task.
Bypassing the face of the government seemed logical when a serving Army Chief was also the President. He is not anymore; Bhutto’s spiritual son has taken over. Wake up and ask him to settle matters with the man who gave him an NRO.